Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Gem Knitting Company, Herkimer, N.Y.

Bird's Eye View of Herkimer, N.Y. with Gem Knitting Company Vintage Postcard

Bird's Eye View of Herkimer, N.Y. with Gem Knitting Company Vintage Postcard (Back)

Published by the Hugh C. Leighton Co., Portland, Maine

Postcard Caption:
Birds Eye view of Herkimer, N.Y.
Morris Mark, the wealthiest man in the county, had the first indoor bathtub and gas furnace, features which captivated the residents of the town. In a biographical sketch of James H. Evans, the History of Herkimer County notes that Evans worked for Mark from the time he arrived in Herkimer in 1877:
...until the formation of Gem Knitting Company four years ago, of which he became the leading partner and practical head. The other members of the concern are H. A. Deimel, C. R. Snell, and M. A. Deimel. Employment is furnished to 150 hands, and Swiss Ribbed Underwear in cotton, wool and silk is produced, three hundred dozen being turned out per day. The factory is a large three-story brick building with basement and contains all modern improvements and machinery. The products are disposed of through their New York office at 48 Leonard street. Mr. Evans is a thirty-second degree Mason.
The History of the Mohawk Valley records that Robert Henry Race "became boss knitter for the Gem Knitting Company, holding that position for three years, and he also worked as boss knitter for the Lyon Knitting Company of St. Johnsville, New York, at two different times. On July 10, 1901, he returned to Herkimer as superintendent of the Gem Knitting Mills Company, and has occupied this position through the intervening period to the present time." Nelson Greene's book was published in 1925, and that's the last mention I can find of the Gem Knitting Company. I'll keep investigating to see if I can find a more conclusive closing date for the establishment.

An aside: I'm fascinated by the tone and word choice of the company and job descriptions. I'd like to be boss knitter anywhere!

In 2011, Herkimer erected a historical marker that includes information about the Gem Knitting Company along with the town's former power plant and the Standard Furniture Company (which closed in the late 1970s). I think the desk assigned to me during my graduate program was manufactured by them!


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